Friday, April 17, 2015

Quiet hours...

If you believe that there are "morning people" and "night people," I fall firmly into the first category.
As much as I love my cozy bed, I rather like getting up early, before the rest of the family. I savor the quiet hour or so I have alone, as the sun creeps up behind the trees that grow to the east of the house.

I might tidy the kitchen, do a load of laundry, or do some writing. All around me the house is silent. I can hear my own breathing, because there are no voices, no music, no television. The livestock are still and calm outside the window, the dogs restful. It is time just for me.

Sometimes those early hours are among my most productive of they day. By 8 AM when I shower and dress I often think, "I've already had a full day!" Going to work can feel like a rest, if I have put those first minutes to good use.

Those early times before the day begins? I find them deeply pleasing.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


The piglets have been here for three days now.

The first night they were here they were acting pretty traumatized from being removed from their birthplace and hauled in a trailer to a new spot. They did eat and drink, but they didn't quite figure out that they had a little house piled high with an entire bale of bright straw to sleep in. So, that first night they slept outside, and when I checked on them in the morning they were shivery and pathetic. I felt awful, it was only 28 degrees out, and they had slept on the cold ground all night.

Yesterday they explored a little more, continued to eat and drink, and they frolicked a bit. I put their food pan, filled with tasty treats like ginger snaps, inside the little house.

When we went out last night to check on them all we could see was one pig ear, protruding from the straw. They had burrowed in, deep, and were happily asleep and warm, under the bedding. I slept better, knowing they were warm and comfortable.

It is a pleasure to see to see the girls rooting about in the dirt, to hear their contented grunts.

We have not named them yet, but I feel sure the right names will come. Meanwhile, the piglets are settling in and learning to enjoy life at FairWinds.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

One of these things is not like the other...

My daughter was here today while I worked in my home grooming studio. She was studying for an upcoming exam, but there was a lot of giggling going on. I went out to see what was happening. There were goat kids in the house! Prancing and dancing and pattering about on the floor with their neat little feet. We generally have a rule against house goats. Smooch the pug was not amused.

They got in his bed. They took up the attention of the humans.

They nibbled on... everything.

They got on the furniture.

Smooch and I finally insisted that the goats go back out to the pasture. Smooch was so relieved he took a nice nap to celebrate. He likes to think he is the cutest thing in the house. The baby goats made him worry that he might lose his position on the "cutest" list.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

New life at FairWinds...

Two years ago we raised a couple of pigs to put pork in the freezer. They were kind of fun to raise, but to be honest, I was a little afraid of them by the time they got big. I figured if I fell in their pasture they would have me for supper. And they were pushy and bold, crashing against my legs like they were trying to topple me. But now I have Ziva, and she was bred to a.) protect me and b.) be bold with pigs. So I am feeling emboldened, too. And our family does like the taste of humanely raised pork. The plan was to find some little piglets this spring to bring home and raise.

Then my friend Scott called me last week. He had found a deal on some well started piglets,and did I want a couple? Of course I did. Bonus points, they are a breed called Red Wattles. They have adorable little things dangling off their necks. I think they are enchanting!
Scott kindly picked the piglets up and delivered them today. That's a good friend.

He had other pigs on the trailer as well. Two for him, and 4 more for other people. So there was a project... getting two pigs off the trailer and no more. Scott masterfully backed up just to the very edge of the hot wire. His friends carefully separated two piglets from the rest of the herd with a big piece of plywood. Before you could say "bacon!" two little girl pigs were off the trailer and exploring their new little pasture. They have a little house filled with clean, bright straw, a big pan of clean water, a food dish with dinner, and a couple of tasty ginger snaps. They have been raised on a concrete pad, and were pretty excited to root around in the dirt of the pasture.

Ziva was VERY interested in the sounds and smells coming from the trailer. Then she sniffed the electric fence and got 15,000 volts of electricity from the electric wire to her chin. It dampened her enthusiasm to the extent that she left the pasture and sat in the back yard, sulking pathetically. Poor Ziva!

Earlier in the day, Chanel and the goats had spent some time enjoying the warm spring sunshine.

Chanel has a new trick. She lies just outside the window, flat out. She looks very, very dead. People driving by stop their cars to look at the odd horse lying so still. When I see her doing that I open a window and call her name. She does not move. At this point I become convinced that she is dead. And I begin to wonder what one does with a dead horse. And I feel sad that she is dead. About that time she raises her head. I am getting more gray hair thanks to her shenanigans!

Shortly after the pigs were ensconced in their new home, Chanel came out to investigate. She looked intently at the piglets. She lifted her head and flared her nostrils. She inhaled deeply. Cautiously she stepped closer, ears pointed forward, eyes intent on the forms of the new creatures. Then she got their scent. She pivoted on a dime, bucked hard and galloped away, throwing clods of mud behind her. Horses dislike pigs. The goats were all eyes, extending their necks, craning to see what those things in the newly cordoned pasture were. In a few days everyone will be acclimated to each other and peace will reign.

The grass is greening and spring is coming along nicely. And there is new life at FairWinds.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Mud, glorious mud..!

When we first plotted a move to Maine, my friend Cindy quipped, "Why do you want to move here? We only have three seasons: Snow, Mud and Bugs."
I was undeterred.

Mud season in Maine can be rather impressive. We have ruts on either side of our paved driveway that are nearly knee deep. The lawn has gone from snow covered to mostly bare, but very spongy. I vacuum every day, and find dustings of mud and chunks of mud. Rubber boots are the uniform of the day.

And the low spots in the pasture? Picture a big puddle. Then exaggerate it in your mind. We have one so large we have dubbed it, "Puddle Pond."

All of this makes for one very, very happy flock of ducks. They had such a long, boring winter. They could barely leave their coop for weeks on end, the snow was so deep. But as it has melted their world has enlarged. Now all day they are motoring around the pasture, chasing what I can only assume are some wee, early flies, and finding puddles with great glee. They splash and flap, dipping their heads and necks down to sift through the water and mud. They are moving almost perpetually from dawn till dusk, marching around on their stubby legs, big feet "fwapping" on the moist soil.

At the end of the day, when the sun sets, they make their way to the duck palace. There they find a pan filled with food and seeds and treats, and a bed of clean, dry shavings. They tuck their heads under their wings and I imagine they sleep well there, safe and dreaming of mud, glorious mud.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Love and laughter...

I've been married to Chris for 31 years.
He has made me laugh every day for all of those years. The other day I told him I needed a clicker to tally up how many times a day he makes me giggle.
I'd be clicking all the time! Here is an example. This past fall I discovered a clothing brand called "Cuddle Duds." There are a few different types, but the one I love the best is sort of glorified long underwear. Supremely comfortable and sort of snug, they are great under other clothes on a cold winter day, and also super comfy just to lounge around in. I got 3 sets and they became my winter 'hang out' uniform.

Yesterday Chris and I were going to take a nap together. It was chilly and I wanted to change out of what I was wearing and put my Cuddle Duds on. I was digging around trying to find a set, to no avail. They were all in the washing machine. Chris saw me looking. He extended his arms to me and quipped from between the covers, "Don't Cuddle Duds! Cuddle DUDE!" I could not resist the cuddles or the laughter.

And then today, after Ella gave birth to twins, he didn't hesitate to lie right down in the shed to help one of them find a teat and get her first meal.
Things like that make me fall in love, over and over again.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Kids and the milk bucket..!

Several posts ago I wrote about Celeste goat having twins. Her kids are doing fine, but Celeste still hates them. For several days I kept her tied up so she could reach food and water, stand up and lie down, but not get away from her hungry kids. I went out several times a day and held her still so the kids could nurse, and hoped they were getting milk between times.

Yesterday evening I went out to repeat the process. While I was at it, Celeste kicked me twice, hard, then bit one of the kids and callously tried to butt her. That did it for me. I milked her and began to bottle feed the kids with her milk. They seemed pleased to have full bellies without threats of death. Celeste seems pleased to be rid of the little things.

So the milk bucket has been taken off it's shelf, where it has sat, unused, all winter. (In this picture it is next to a whole bunch of duck eggs.) And Celeste is being milked twice a day. Soon I will begin to milk Luna, too, and after Ella kids, I'll add her to the line up. The season has begun!

I will make yogurt and cheese and soap. I will feed extra milk to the dogs and the hens and the new pigs that will arrive next week. Meanwhile the kids will grow and flourish. The goats will be the center of our tiny hobby farm, and our well used milk bucket will see a lot of service.